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Osborne County, Kansas

Osborne County was organized on September 12, 1871, by Charles William Bullock; Zachary Wlrood; Calvin Reasoner; Lyman Earl; William Bear; H. D. Markley; George Kendig; David Tindal; William Kendig; F. R. Gruger; and Frank Rathenberger. The county was named for Vincent C. Osborne, a private in the Civil War who lost a leg, returned to Kansas and settled in Ellsworth. He was prominent in Ellsworth politics and business until he died in 1879. Osborne contains the towns of Portis, Natoma, Osborne, Downs and Alton.

Settlement in the county was held back by continuing Indian raids and scares in the county from 1870 to 1878, until the arrival of the Central Pacific Railroad in 1879, and the ending of the Indian difficulties in 1878. The last of the great range wars, beginning in 1902 and continuing until it was ended with the assistance of the Kansas National Guard in 1903, was significant for the final settling and opening of the land for all types of agriculture.

The Congregational church in Osborne, founded in 1872, is the oldest church. The first county fair was held in Osborne in 1872. The first school district was founded March 14, 1872, southwest of Osborne. The school building is still standing.

Two interesting Kansans hail from Osborne. Hiram C. Bull, known as "general," because of his Civil War experiences even though he never rose above captain, came west to seek his fortune, establishing a town and ranch on the Solomon River that was short lived. Also, Jeff Durfey, early settler, buffalo hunter, and purported friend and colleague of William F. Cody lived in the county. Also local legend tells of one Dan Otto. Supposedly in 1871, Otto was hunting and was charged by a buffalo. Otto sprang on the animal's back and rode him over hill and dale. Finally, the buffalo became fatigued and took refuge up a tree in the vain hope of escaping its rider. Otto twisted a rope from the shaggy mane of the buffalo, hung the animal from a limb in the tree, removed its hide, and cut him up butcher style.

Osborne has many interesting sites, such as, the Osborne County Museum, the Grieg Log House and the Geodetic Center of the United States.

For more information see the Osborne County website. The Osborne County Historical Society has publications and other information on the county's history available.

Entry: Osborne County, Kansas

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: February 2010

Date Modified: October 2015

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.